Evaporative coolers make for excellent air conditions. Importantly, they do not rely on chemical refrigerants but instead, use the natural cooling potential of water. Often considered low-tech, evaporative coolers require less maintenance, use less electricity, and are far less likely to spill harmful chemicals as compared to refrigerant AC systems.
When shopping for an evaporative cooler, it is very useful to begin your search armed with knowledge regarding the primary types of evaporative coolers. This information allows you to narrow your search down based on your price range and the specifics of your cooling goals.
Further, understanding the primary evaporative cooler brands will give you a leg up when you head to the appliance store. All brands have reputations for certain strengths and weaknesses, and only some may even offer the type of evaporative cooler that fits your needs.
In the rest of this post, we cover the primary types of evaporative coolers as well as the major evaporative cooler brands. The main types are direct, indirect, 2-stage, portable, ducted, mounted, 2-in-1, and tanked or piped evaporative coolers. The evaporative cooler brands discussed here are Hessaire, Honeywell, Luma, Breezewell, and Frigidaire.
Types Of Evaporative Coolers
All evaporative coolers work on the same basic principle. They provide mechanisms to allow water to evaporate into the air. Since the lowest energy water molecules evaporate first, these cold molecules actually lower the temperature of the air.
Direct evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, are the most common type of evaporative coolers. They use a fan to pull hot air through a dampened membrane. The cooler air is then exhausted into the home. This type of evaporative cooler can be purchased small enough to cool a single small room or large enough to cool an entire home.
This process does add humidity to the air, so it is inadvisable in areas with in-home moisture issues. To partially combat this, open vents in your home or take advantage of whole house ventilation fans. In fact, placing the direct cooler in a window or slightly opening windows or vents is essential as they work best with consistent airflow.
Indirect evaporative coolers use the same basic principle as direct evaporative coolers. However, indirect coolers do not significantly change the humidity of the air. They accomplish this by separating the air, which is cooled through the evaporative process, and the inside air which is conditioned and then pushed inside.
Most often, this is accomplished by running air over a series of wet pipes. Then that cooled air will cool the inside air, which is running through the inside of the pipes. As less change is imparted to interior humidity, this type of cooling is appropriate for wetter areas. Usually, indirect systems are used in larger applications like warehouses and large retail establishments.
As implied by the name, 2-stage evaporative coolers combine indirect and direct evaporative cooling technologies. By this, air can be made cooler than either just direct or indirect evaporative coolers. Further, this cooler air is produced with more energy efficiency. This technology is currently not common.
First, the air is pulled through an indirect cooling system which cools inside air without adding humidity to it. Then, that colder air is pushed through a direct evaporative membrane to cool it further. This technology raises inside humidity to 50% to 65%.
Portable evaporative coolers are thus named because of their small size or ease of movement. They can be moved from room to room and easily stored in the non-cooling season. Almost always, portable evaporative coolers use direct technology. Often, portable evaporative coolers have wheels on their bottoms.
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Mounted evaporative coolers can either be mounted on a wall, window, roof, or even the ground. These coolers usually are permanent or semi-permanent. They are too heavy to easily move (except for maybe once a year) and are often bolted in place year-round. Almost all indirect and 2-stage evaporative coolers need to be mounted in some way. However, larger direct evaporative coolers also are best when mounted.
If large enough, evaporative coolers can operate either with or without ducts. Ducts are useful because they allow cooled air to efficiently reach your entire home. Take note, ducts for evaporative coolers need to be larger than ducts for refrigerant-based AC systems. This means that you will need to contact an HVAC professional before simply adding an evaporative cooler to your duct system.
7. 2 in 1
These 2 in 1 evaporative coolers are combinations of direct evaporative coolers and a simple fan. This flexibility is convenient because sometimes the fan is all you need or require. Also, the fan helps to distribute the freshly cooled air throughout the room or space.
8. Tanked or Piped
All evaporative coolers require a water supply. This supply can either be accomplished through a tank or through a water hose or pipe. Tanks require more attention because you must routinely refill them as you go through your water. Piped evaporative coolers (or ones connected to a hose) are more difficult to install, more likely to develop leaks, but do not require regular refilling.
Brands Of Evaporative Coolers
There are many brands of evaporative coolers. The following list only includes some of the primary brands. To ensure a wise purchasing decision, be sure to shop online and in-person, read reviews on the specific unit you are considering buying, and follow all manufactures directions.
Hessaire is known for making a wide range of direct and portable evaporative coolers. In terms of portable, these wheeled units are relatively large and can be appropriate for everything from a small warehouse to an apartment.
Also, Hessaire is coming out with a line of mounted evaporative coolers. Overall, Hessair evaporative cooler products are consistently well-reviewed.
This large company produces a wide range of technology for many sectors, from business to construction to evaporative coolers. Like Hessaire, Honeywell mostly produces direct and portable evaporative coolers.
3. Luma Comfort/New Air
Luma Comfort is one of the evaporative cooler brands sold by Newair. These 2-in-1 systems are very portable and come with a direct evaporate cooler and a separate fan. The two elements can be run together or individually.
Breezewell offers mostly what they advertise to be 3-in-1 portable evaporative coolers. The three features include a fan, the cooling, and a humidifier. However, all direct evaporative coolers are also humidifiers. Breezewell makes a flashy modern looking line of evaporative coolers.
Frigidaire makes a wide range of evaporative cooler products that fall on both ends of the evaporative cooler price spectrum. This popular brand is sold almost everywhere evaporative coolers can be bought. However, Frigidaire is most well known for its line of standard refrigerant-style air conditioners.
6. Energy Labs
Energy labs make industrial-sized roof-mounted indirect evaporative coolers. These are appropriate for large retail settings or perhaps as systems installed on new construction. These large units function best when paired with appropriate ducting.
How to Size Evaporative Coolers?
Sizing evaporative coolers is a relatively simple process. Almost all evaporative coolers come with a square footage recommendation. All you need to do is to match that recommendation to the square footage of the area you are attempting to cool.
Take note; if you have a very high ceiling, you may need to oversize your evaporative cooler because of the additional added volume. Further, if you place an undersized evaporative cooler in too large a home or space - it will work very hard without producing much in the way of results. That is to say, appropriately sizing your evaporative cooler is the most energy and cost-efficient option.
How Often to Clean Evaporative Cooler Filters?
It is recommended that you clean all evaporative cooler components and filters at least once per month. Because of the high humidity and moisture of these systems, they quickly get soiled. This is particularly problematic if the filters are allowed to grow mold. If left uncleaned, this mold produces spores that are blown throughout the living space.
What Climates Are Appropriate for Direct Evaporative Coolers?
Dry, hot climates are the most appropriate for direct evaporative coolers. Since evaporative coolers add humidity to the air, these units will actually bring the indoor air's humidity up to a more comfortable level. On the other hand, wet climates are inappropriate for direct evaporative coolers. The indoor air humidity will get too high and potentially cause problems.
Is In-Home Humidity Bad?
In-home humidity is only bad if it gets too extreme. Usually, it is recommended that you keep the humidity of your home between 30% and 50%. Humidity that is higher than this can cause issues. Namely, it can lead to the growth of mold, mildew, and even structural damage.
The increased moisture added to the air will inevitably soak into the wall and ceiling material. This creates a habitat where microbes, such as bacteria and fungus, can thrive. In turn, these microbes can grow into mold or cause components of your home to start rotting.
Mold is the most serious of the potential issues of high in-home humidity. Prolonged exposure to high levels of mold spores can both cause respiratory issues or exacerbate existing respiratory issues. If you see mold in your home, take immediate steps to reduce in-home humidity.
HVAC Seer contains a wide range of information on evaporative coolers. To learn more, consider reading these great articles:
- How To Drain Water From An Evaporative Cooler
- Can You Put Ice In An Evaporative Cooler?
- 13 Evaporative Cooler Hacks You Should Know
- Can You Run An Evaporative Cooler All Day?
- Swamp Cooler Spraying Water – What To Do?
In this post, we cover the primary types of evaporative coolers by describing the technology and features currently available on the market. In addition, we introduce some of the largest evaporative cooler brands. To close we answer a few related questions. Good luck!